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Garrett Fuller: Do You PvP?

This week, Garrett runs through the ways people fight each other in MMOs, why they do it, and asks you why you do it.

Do You PvP?

Ever been in a fist fight? Ever been punched in the face and felt your head spin only to hopefully retain consciousness and turn back on the attacker to rain down a series of vicious strikes that put them into the hospital? Ok that is a bit much, but that is the reality of a fight in today’s world. We’ve evolved past jousting tournaments, duels of honor with swords or guns into the realm of fist fights and eventually lawsuits. The world we live in today leaves very little room for the wide open beat down of an opponent outside of hockey. MMOs are different. In MMOs player vs. player combat allows for fights in various forms. The player can taunt, crush, electrocute, incinerate, or hamstring the opponent and in the end even spit on the corpse. Pretty rough stuff when you think about it. So my question this week is do you PvP and more importantly why?

The open war form of PvP is likely the most common in MMOs. EVE Online has giant space battles between massive corporations filled with total destruction. With groups like GoonSquad gearing up to wreak havoc on the galaxy and any opponent’s who get in their way. Where is the fun in open war PvP for the average player? For some being on the winning team is important. Others like the feel of an epic battle in space and watch in awe as the giant ships clash. The same holds true for large battles in fantasy worlds like the early days of Warcraft when Tarren Mill was filled with players fighting back and forth. There were no victory points or conditions; there was a street fight plain and simple. Some players like the mentality of being in the think of a fight. The action of an epic battle is what drives players to PvP.

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Some players are just simple killers. PvP servers foster the environment to go out and make other players lives miserable. This style of PvP plays into the survival of the fittest mind set. These players enjoy calling others “carebears” and mocking the worlds they play in. Remember manhunt as a kid or even the game of tag. The hunt for enemies is constant and at any turn it could mean the end. This idea of PvP is strongest in first person shooters, but also works well in MMOs. Why more studios do not put these styles of scenarios into games makes no sense. There are a large amount of players who truly enjoy being the killer. Imagine a WoW achievement for the most back stabs that resulted in character death. The desire to hunt and kill rests in our human subconscious ever since our cave man days. This type of PvP is a great example of the hunter/killer in all of us.

The last form of PvP I’ll cover today is what I call “fighting for something.” The objective based PvP that many games have gives players a reason to fight. Whether defending or attacking a castle players are fighting for a purpose. The purpose drives the PvP. Some games are very good at giving players a reason to go out and fight, others fail miserably. EVE allows players to create their own reasons to fight and dominate the game universe. WAR put in objectives from the beginning of the game which gave players a reason to fight the other side. This can be a tough balance for developers. When are there too many objectives in a game vs. allowing players to make up their own objectives.

Sometimes the best fights break out for no reason at all. In many ways Dark Age of Camelot’s PvP got worse with the New Frontiers expansion because it gave players too many static fights over castles and not enough pure realm pride open field battles. This problem has continued in Warhammer in some ways with so many open battle field objectives and not enough just pure go out there and get ‘em fighting areas. The overuse of objective based PvP can take away from the open battle style and the plain killer style of PvP that players also enjoy. Giving players objectives is not bad, but overdoing it can be. In Warhammer I can remember constantly running from one point to another in a zone simply to kill Keep Lords and ignoring enemy players, somehow that is not right.

PvP is one of those game mechanics that is very subjective for each player. Rewards, objectives, or the pure kill or be killed can be fun in a game if done correctly. In some games it just happens naturally. Many developers put PvP game options in but sometimes don’t ask the question of why players PvP? These three reasons are some, but there are many others to find. In the end it is all about showing off your badges, victory points, or gear or is it more about knowing the player on the other computer is screaming at you as you dance over the corpse.

Garrett Fuller Garrett Fuller Editorials
Garrett Fuller has been playing MMOs since 1997. He originally joined MMORPG.com as a writer in 2005. In 2007 Garrett went on to handle Industry Relations for TenTonHammer.com. Then, in July 2009, Garrett happily rejoined his old team at MMORPG.com as the site's News Manager. Garrett lives in Hillsborough, NJ with his wife, son and daughter.

His column appears here every Wednesday.
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